The council of Education to act against school disruptions

The Council of Education Ministers (CEM), led by the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga recently held a meeting to discuss developments recorded since the second cohort of learners returned to school around the country on the 6 July 2020.

During the meeting, the CEM noted that schooling is indeed resuming with good progress, the learners were received well and many schools have made a concerted effort to prepare adequate sanitation, health, and safety measures to welcome the learners back.

However, the CEM noted with disappointment and dismay on the on-going irregular attempts by political and civic organizations to disrupt learning at some schools around the country.

“These organizations have threatened teachers and learners, others have gone to court and failed to stop the school reopening and now are bent on resorting to threats and disruptions to achieve their intended goals,” said Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga.

The CEM had appealed to all aggrieved political and civic organizations to rather engage with their political counterparts and authorities at their usual platforms.

“These platforms are appropriate avenues to register their concerns and complaints and not our centers of learning and development. The unfolding political ballgame does not belong in schools,” added Motshekga.

CEM said it was regrettable that leaders would choose schools as a theatre of political posturing and muscle-flashing while the Department of Basic Education is working on creating a safe environment for learning and teaching under COVID-19.

“Failure to desist from these regrettable acts will leave us no choice but to exercise our options as per the dictates of the South African Schools Act (no. 84 of 1996), to make sure we protect our schools, educators, learners and the rights and interests of parents who wish to take their children back to school,” said Motshekga.

The Minister said that some of the organizations had lost in court and now they were resorting to disruptive behaviour.

“We are disappointed and dismayed that these organizations have neglected to recognize the efforts of the department in providing alternatives for parents who out of well-founded anxiety and fear wish not to return their children to school. Some parents wish not to return their children to school because children have comorbidities and this is a fact well understood and embraced by the Department. For these parents, we’ve made provision, as allowed by the South African Schools Act for Home Education. This option is available and can be accessed by applying at Provincial Education Departments,” the Minister said.

It is also important to note that over and above the Home Education which is provided for in terms of section 51 of the South African Schools Act, the new directions have further provided extra the avenue for learners with comorbidities, parents/ guardians who out fear and anxiety are unable to send children to school and the last category is for parents who would like to get their children to continue schooling through online learning, she further explained.

The CEM has not ruled out the possibility of going to court to seek protection from all those hell-bent on obstructing schooling.